Sevenoaks U9s were in play at 3 different festivals last Sunday. This was the first outing in festivals following the introduction of contact and tackling. With three weeks of coaching under their belts, five teams headed out to apply what had been learnt in such a short period of time. Every player stepped up to the challenge with confidence and gusto and whilst some may have been slower out of the blocks, every player at least attempted to make a tackle.
The squad at Medway faced some tough competition but battled through to win 3 and lose 1, with strong tackling seeing the ‘drive for 5’ become a ‘drive for 15’. At Foxbury, the players acquitted themselves valiantly with four very close matches, losing three and drawing one but the losses were very close with just a single score being the difference at times. Two teams headed West to Guildford for an A and B festival. The As turned up in force and tackled relentlessly to win every game convincingly, covering their opposition consistently in the tackles – coupled with strong running, the score lines reflected a capable side. The Bs were more cautious in the execution of the tackle initially, but by the end of the four games every player had committed to and completed a clean tackle, with two wins, a draw and a loss to show for their efforts. An excellent evolution from them all.
SRFC U9s running and passing skills continue to be finely honed, but the focus going forward is to concentrate on the tackle and resisting the advance of the opposition. As applied last season in the TAG game, defence is the most important element to the game and the area we as coaches will continue to try to develop.
First up were the hosts Guildford as we entered our first tackling tournament in mid-morning autumn sunshine; how the players adapted to this significant change was going to be crucial.
We started strongly with an all-encompassing defensive effort (a theme of the day) particularly prevalent which coupled with some convincing breaks and straight running yielded good results. That allowed Sevenoaks to contain the home teams challenge as we ran out as fairly comfortable winners 7-0.
Second up was Farnborough where the strong defensive performance continued forcing the opposition into several mistakes. The players followed a structured and straight defensive line pushing Farnborough further and further back. This resulted in a 7-1 win.
Our third match was against Effingham & Leatherhead. Our more fragmented defence was tested particularly in the first half however after a good half time discussion we improved our defence in the second half and ran out winners by 6-2.
The last of our games was against Old Reigatians Green which was our closest game winning 6-3. In the first half we again suffered several defensive lapses meaning we led by 1 try at the break. In the second half we again tightened up our defence which resulted in several turnovers from the opposition.
A strong start to the season from a team where all the players contributed not merely through scoring tries and running support lines but more crucially in defensive duties through tackling, maintaining the defensive line and sheer commitment. A fantastic team effort.
To work on: maintaining intensity of the tackle work, and crucially maintaining a better defensive spread across the field; better support work (ie. better linking play); more composure in attack from tackle area (time is available) and consider 2/3 quick passes as a better option to work the overlap; and lastly spread out during broken field attacking (too many players gathering around the ball).
Players & try scorers: Callum Le Roux (1); Edik Karsak (2); George Rehbein (1); Isaac Rosier; Jan Lousberg (2); Luke Coll (2); Max Clark (6); Raphael Landgrebe (1); Tiger Bussey (3); Yiannis Papadopoulos (7)
A cold morning met the travellers to Guildford and after the referee briefing, thoughts turned to the long cold gaps between games and how to keep the players warm and conserving energy. It was short lived as the continuation of the ‘Indian Summer’ saw temperatures slowly rise to the late teens to keep all invigorated and ready for play. The 40-50 minutes between games also flew past.
Our first outing was against Old Reigatians and a well matched game – this was both sides first competitive match and the momentum grew throughout the game with defence being held by a few – lots of ‘near miss efforts’ as the boys got close to the tackle but struggled to tip themselves in to the tackle impact and the ring of steel. In possession we attacked well with some excellent tries run in by Lucas, Hugo and Harry to draw the game 7-7.
Next up, we faced Barnes and the squad pulled together and the defending tacklers grew in number – relentless take downs by Alex, coupled with excellent forward runs by Rishan who when tackled, presented the ball excellently for the scrum half. Priam and Harvey stepped in to the SH role time and again with the ball recycled quickly and efficiently. Hugo, Alex, Harry and Louis took us to a deserved win of 7-3.
In our third game we faced Battersea Ironsides and ultimately lost the game on our tackling – the ‘near miss’ tackles came back with the opposition scything through our boys with ease at times, despite Harvey nailing a cross pitch try saving tackle. Alex and Joshua managed to take three tries from them but the game finished 3-5.
In our final game we rose to a crescendo against Camberley – a good side with some relentless attacks in their arsenal. But our boys stepped up to the plate with ‘The Real Joshua Clare’ showing his colours early on. Clearly something had pushed Joshua’s button as he tore through the defence to run two tries in and tackled frantically. Harry Edwards put the shoulder in low and hard as the oppo failed to break through time and again. Lucas found his tackle bringing down bigger and heavier players to stop their advance, often with some Priam assistance to balance the scales. Harvey too made his way through a wall of players to get on the score board. Hugo found his gear in the final throws of the game showing the confidence to unleash the speed we know he holds, carrying the ball over the line to add to the tries from Joshua, Lucas and Harvey securing us a 5-1 win.
The coaches had an air of concern pre festival that some of the boys may not take to contact that well – it is after all a very physical sport and the varied ages, heights and strength of the players can create a level of fear and anxiety. Whilst it took some of the boys a bit more time to overcome their initial nerves, by the end of the tournament each and every one had completed an excellent tackle and held the opposition at bay – our fear evaporated. Well done all – we are very proud of how you have done and the evolution that has taken place.
Sevenoaks v Beccs 1 – 4
Try by Louis Top Tacklers: Forbes, Zach, Jason
Sevenoaks vs Bromley 5 – 7
Tries: Louis 3, Elliot 1, Jason 1 Top Tacklers: Forbes, Zach, Jason, Josh
Sevenoaks vs Sidcup 3 – 3
Tries: Louis 3, Elliot 1, Jason 1 Top Tacklers: Forbes, Zach, Jason, Josh
Sevenoaks vs OE’s 2 – 5
Tries: Louis 2 Top Tacklers: Forbes, Zach, Jason, Josh
Team: Daniel Peters, Ben Hunter, George Pearson, Harry Corstorphire, Harry Mitchell, Jack James, Jamie Robertson, Mackenzie Copp, Owen Williamson, Peter Clews.
Played 4: won 3; lost 1.
We got off to a slowish start and lost narrowly to Dartford 1, then played Edenbridge 1 and won comfortably - tries for Mac Owen and Ben. All boys doing well in defence with some good tackling, one particularly good one from George - absolute textbook. Gravesend were next and with Harry C and Mac running in 3 each; Owen and Harry M also taking 1 each to take a win. Gravesend had one particularly big lad who our boys did well collectively to tackle - great team spirit. Lastly we played Medway and took a comfortable win - with Harry C and Mac taking a few each and one particularly good tackle from Harry C.
Great attitude and behaviour by all the boys - a great morning at Medway.